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Joe Flacco knows how to quiet Lamar Jackson questions: Win

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Ravens teammates believe the drafting of quarterback Lamar Jackson has lit a fire under Joe Flacco.

On Friday, Flacco brought the heat when asked if there is going to be a point in the season where he grows sick of the repeated questions about Jackson.

"No, I don't because I think we're going to win and we're not going to hear about it," Flacco said after the second practice of training camp.

That's essentially the crux of the quarterback situation in Baltimore: If the Ravens win, no one questions Flacco's job. If Baltimore struggles, the cries for Jackson will get louder and louder.

Flacco has taken the obviously awkward questions about Jackson's arrival in stride. Teammates such as safety Eric Weddle and running back Alex Collins, though, have talked about how drafting a quarterback in the first round has lit a fire under the typically cool-natured Flacco.

"Listen, I think everybody has thoughts and feelings when that initially happens, when all that goes down and what that really means," Flacco said when asked if the drafting of Jackson changes his mindset. "But as far as me going out on the field and things that actually matter, I’m taking it as I always take it. I’m working hard. I come into this building and I work. I try to push the other guys and make relationships with them and really do everything I can to make this team better. I’m not changing that in any way. I think everybody, whether they felt good or bad about it, when Lamar got drafted there was a certain feeling and you can’t hide that."

The Ravens' drafting of Jackson was not a shocking development, particularly given how Flacco has struggled in recent years.

Flacco is 38-36 (.513) since winning the Super Bowl and has failed to reach the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. The 33-year-old is not as durable as earlier in his career, dealing with a knee injury in 2015 and a herniated disk last year.

The biggest concern is how Flacco's production has ranked near the bottom of the league. Among the 12 quarterbacks to start at least 70 games the past five seasons, Flacco is the only one to throw fewer than 100 touchdown passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Since 2013, Flacco has racked up a league-high $112 million but has delivered the worst touchdown-to-interception ratio and yards per attempt.

The optimism surrounding Flacco in this year's training camp stems from his health and performance. He's showing more mobility than he has the past three seasons, and he's pushing the ball downfield.

"I expect Joe to have a career year this year and him to lead our team to the playoffs," Weddle said.

There is no quarterback controversy in Baltimore because Flacco is throwing the ball at a different level than Jackson and Robert Griffin III.

"I think every year he comes in with his mindset that he wants to be great, mainly because everybody outside of this building doesn’t think he’s elite, and inside the building everybody does think that way," linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "We bring three quarterbacks in, drafted a first-round quarterback -- that’s no new news for anybody in here. It lets them know that in the NFL, at some point in time, people are looking to replace you, and that’s just the nature of the game."

Some have made the comparison that this year is similar to the time in 2012 when Flacco chose not to sign an extension before the season and bet on himself entering the final year of his deal. But, unlike that time, Flacco hasn't taken the Ravens to the postseason in each of the past four seasons (like 2008-11). In fact, the Ravens have missed the playoffs in four of the past five seasons.

If Flacco wins and plays well, he either buys himself another year in Baltimore or gets traded (and still makes his $18.5 million salary in 2019). If Flacco falters and Jackson shows promise, that could lead to a change at quarterback.

"Hey, listen, to make it in this league, period, you have to be able to tune out some things and believe in yourself and go play," Flacco said. "I don’t know if this situation is any different than just making it in this league."